The top Chinese prosecutor announced on Thursday that two men associated with the former Chinese security boss Zhou Yongkang are to face trial in Hubei Province.
The men, Li Chuncheng, and Jiang Jiemin, each comprised a part of Zhou’s vast network of power and influence. Zhou was purged from the party last year in December is set to face prosecution. Li, a former deputy party secretary of Sichuan Province, was known as a “fixer” for Zhou; Jiang was a former director and deputy Party secretary of the state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, the government agency that oversees all state companies. Prior to that role, Jiang was the chairman of PetroChina and ex-general manager of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), and a linchpin of Zhou’s control over the petroleum sector in the 1990s.
Li and Jiang were first tagged by anticorruption investigators in late 2012 and late 2013 respectively. They were among the first to be purged in the investigation of Zhou Yongkang, which cast a wide net among his former colleagues and cronies. Zhou’s career saw him in posts in Sichuan Province, which is rich in energy, and in the oil sector, which is monopolized by the state, and allows those who control it to extract huge rents.
In announcing that the men would be prosecuted, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate published two statements with few differences: both cases were being handed from the top prosecutor’s office to local offices in Hubei Province, where the trial would be held, at Intermediate People’s Courts in the cities of Hanjiang and Xiangning.
Jiang Jiemin was accused of “using his position to gain benefits for others, demanding and illegally receiving vast sums” and “having assets and expenses that clearly far exceeded his legal income, with no explanation as to their origin.”
Li Chuncheng was said also to be guilty of receiving bribes and abusing his position. “It brought great losses to state assets,” the note from the prosecutor’s office said. “The circumstances were particularly severe.”
Just days before the recent announcement, Party investigators moved to take out one of Jiang Jiemin’s former cronies, Liao Yongyuan, who took the blame for a pipeline explosion in 2010, so that Jiang’s career would not be imperiled, according to the Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television.
Jiang Jiemin was important to Zhou Yongkang as a source of cash: according to Hong Kong media Apple Daily, Jiang provided Zhou and his family access to around $10 billion, funneled through Swiss banks.
Jiang was appointed chairman of the China National Petroleum Corporation (the parent company of PetroChina) in 2006, and became a key figure at the firm, where the top positions are nearly always doled out to those close to powerful officials. Sources from Sichuan and PetroChina told Epoch Times that after Jiang became Zhou’s political sidekick, he lent Zhou enormous financial support with vast embezzled sums.
The other official, Li Chuncheng, enjoyed ties with Zhou that tended to be focused on violence rather than wealth.
Besides being investigated for graft, Li is also under strong suspicion for his more sinister direct involvement in the persecution of Chinese citizens who practice the slow moving meditation exercises of Falun Gong. The persecution against that group began in 1999. When Li was the mayor of the city of Chengdu from 1999 to 2002, he was Zhou’s trusted confidant. Zhou was the Party chief of Sichuan Province.
An investigative report released by the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong, a nonprofit research organization based in the United States, suggested that both Li and Zhou were involved in the detention of Falun Gong practitioners in military warehouses and other facilities in Sichuan and Chongqing, potentially for the victims to be killed so their vital organs could be sold for transplant.
On March 12, the head of the Chinese Supreme Court, Zhou Qiang said public trials are being prepared for 28 high-ranking officials, including Zhou Yongkang.
The court’s annual report also announced that Zhou’s case goes beyond corruption, and implied that Zhou, together with former Politburo member Bo Xilai, took part in forming a political faction for amassing power.
Zhou Ruijin, a former deputy editor-in-chief of People’s Daily, the Party’s official mouthpiece, went a step further in a recent interview with the business magazine Caijing. He said that the relationship between Zhou Yongkang, Bo Xilai, Xu Caihou (formerly the second most powerful man in the military), and Ling Jihua (aide to former Party leader Hu Jintao), was “complex and intertwined.”
With the addition of men like Jiang Jiemin overseeing the state economic sector, and Li Dongsheng, once in propaganda and later in the security apparatus, the group had formed an “enormous network of corruption.”
It got to the point that “they could almost blot out the sky and cover the earth,” he said.
On March 15, state media reported that Xu Caihou, a member of this clique and former vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, had died of cancer. The announcement came precisely one year, to the day, after he was arrested on charges of corruption.
With research by Frank Fang.